August 18, 2010

For Some Odd Reason (pt. 5)

Ratchet Loses her Head and Finds her Hat

Ratchet returned to her neighborhood, in rather deep thought concerning most everything that'd just happened to her. The whole thing made no sense. Why the heck would she have survived? It wasn't like she was imbibed with...well, maybe she was.

She didn't like to imagine what abnormal occurrences might be caused by her recent strangeness and its source. She was just wondering what could have done whatever had been done to her when she walked head-on into the stench she'd only briefly encountered before. At the least convenient moment possible, she saw her hat.

It was sitting basically where she'd been standing, a good hundred feet off, in the middle of a crater that had created foot-wide cracks in the street and smashed a half a dozen houses completely flat. Trees were now collections of flimsy, twig-like shaves of charred wood, separated forcefully along their grains. The feeble breeze made the fragile arrangement sway and rock. It also blew Ratchet's hair behind her, causing it to rise and fall with the wind. Ratchet spent roughly a tenth of a second rolling her eyes before she was bodily carried away by it.

If it hadn't been that she had brothers well capable of tearing out a hair a day from her less than perfect scalp, this painful new force would have made Ratchet scream aloud. As it was, she merely winced and watched the ground disappear beneath her. Ratchet vaguely wondered if she'd survive such a rapid ascension, being that air pressure would be changing so quickly. As she looked down on her thoroughly blasted neighborhood, she noticed that the crater was square-shaped, and thoroughly unattended by the fire department or police.

Ratchet was sometimes slow to realize things, and thus, slowly did she realize she was no longer breathing air. On the other hand, she was breathing. Ratchet assumed her intermittent superpowers were kicking in, and looked around. Earth was already could easily fit into her field of vision with no trouble. The moon was slightly to her right as she rose. In a rather depressed and annoyed tone of voice, she thought, "Now I'm never going to finish my Algebra."

To her surprise, her comment went entirely heard. She raised an eyebrow and thought, "If hats were toast." Not surprisingly, this time, she heard herself aloud, though her lips didn't move. At this moment, she both noticed her hat was missing, and found it. For her, it wasn't important how abnormally things were starting to happen, now. It was important, however, that her hat was somehow racing toward earth, slowly beginning to glow a slight pink color. Ratchet didn't notice this until it hit her head on. The battered fedora had stopped dead in mid-space right ahead of her. As she'd been chasing it (she didn't bother spending brainpower wondering how), it was with rather a crunch that she hit it. Her wince of pain quickly translated into a perplexed and suspicious look.

"Have you been eating liquid metal?"

The hat looked doleful and unused.

"Well, I'm glad. I've heard nasty stuff about that kind of thing. Anyway, how'd you gain so much weight?"

The hat continued looking doleful and began twitching its brim.

"Come on. Out with it."

The hat paused its twitching and spun on the spot. Whatever Ratchet had expected, she had been entirely wrong. Despite this, she accepted what she saw without pause.

The fedora had a face. Undeniably, a face isn't something that can conveniently exist on a hat, when, originally, it existed on humans, but the resemblance was stunning.

By intricate sewing and the strangest selection of threads, the hat had a face to end all non-human faces. Its eyes were made from a combination of large and small buttons, combined with eyebrows and lashes made from seemingly stiff thread.

The mouth was even harder to describe. The tear in it that had occasionally provided Ratchet some physical reason to confide in such a thing as a hat was now embroidered and sewn with carelessness and abandon. It looked like someone had threaded thread again and again around a hem to give the strangest appearance of lips. Ratchet was sure she'd be the talk of the town after Halloween if she used it this year.

To top it off, it talked.

"Well, do you think I'd just leave myself flattened like that on the ground? Did you think I'd let you leave me in the middle of blood, guts, and that abominable stench? I thought you loved me!"

Ratchet would have been taken off guard, had she not been kidnapped, imbibed with intermittent superpowers, and robbed by a who knows what of her best and only hat.

"You think I abandoned you!? Was it MY fault that I was completely knocked unconscious by God knows who?! Was it my fault that..."

"Yes," it said.

Ratchet paused.

"HOW!?" she bellowed, noticing only briefly that the rim of the fedora was now bristling and quivering.

The fedora gave her a withering look, and pointed out frankly, "You're dreaming, you complete moron."

Ratchet snorted.

"Dreaming, am I? How do you know you're not dreaming?"

The fedora rolled its eyes and laughed aloud.

"Me, dreaming?! I'm beyond such nonsense. What do you think being on your head all these years has done to me? Dream--what nonsense," it snorted.

Ratchet looked back at earth, possibly ten thousand miles would she know, she'd never actually put her head into math...

She turned back. The hat had its lips pursed, and was trying hard to glare at her. For a split second, she realized the hat was having a very hard time being angry at her. She sighed.

"Well? Are you going to help me? I haven't the slightest idea what's wrong or what I can do about it."

The fedora's eyebrows raised, and it floated over to her head.

"So far, the only resolution necessary is me to be once again, on you. We can work on your silly neighborhood after that."

Ratchet sighed and put the hat on. It seemed as if she'd just eaten something comfortably warm when she was inches from hypothermia. Warmth coursed through her body and she noticed she was breathing air again. She shook her head in a perplexed way and walked off through space. She'd always wanted to see if the Great Red Spot was more or less turbulent than it looked.


For Some Odd Reason (pt. 4)

The Hat's the Thing

Ratchet wasn't your average girl. This wasn't solely because there is no such thing, though. It was also because she was both thoroughly atypical and positively typical. That is to say, she was human.

Ratchet's hair was a slightly reddish brown and varied in length wildly, some of it reaching below her chest, and some of it incapable of making contact with her shoulder. Her eyes were an unimportant color, but seemed to dazzle the fairer sex more than any insanely expensive pebble mounted on 24-caret gold.

She generally wore overlarge camo jeans, a rather disgustingly overused T-shirt (which was, nonetheless, spotless), and a fedora that could have been made decades ago and mistakenly left in a thoroughly not abandoned alley, only to be used, misused, and unused for the next couple decades. In truth, the story wasn't much different.

Still, she loved the hat, and, though its brim drooped sadly more than often, Ratchet continued to wear it. Secretly, she felt much too sorry for it to ever let it out of her sight. The thought of throwing it away, at this point, was tantamount to bombing her own house during her own birthday. Thus, Ratchet had kept the hat for more than eight years, never letting it out of her sight.

As she walked back toward home (she didn't know why she was going that way), she was completely hatless.

Unbelievably, she didn't notice.


August 15, 2010

For Some Odd Reason (pt. 3)

Wherein Ratchet Found Herself Quick, Tired, and Clean

Ratchet mentally scratched her head. She was sure it had just itched. In a similar manner, she scratched her nose, when it presented the discomfort afforded by itching, also mentally. This wouldn't have surprised her, had she been merely free from inhumane restraint, as she most obviously was not.

Ratchet mentally scratched her head again. It perplexed her, but she seemed to have gained some intermittent superhuman abilities. Whether or not these would prove useful, she couldn't say.

Her nearest, and least pleasant captor continued to glower at her, clearly expecting her to say something.

"I knew I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque," Ratchet said hopefully.

Suddenly, the man with the green facial hair grabbed her by the neck and lifted her, bonds and chair, off the ground. Ratchet immediately tried to retch, but her efforts were hampered by the simple fact that she wasn't in the slightest pain. She shot a perplexed look at her irate captor and crashed noisily to the floor.

Ratchet was suddenly aware that, instead of being in a sitting position, she was spread-eagled on the floor, fragments of rope, chains, chair, and duct tape attached to her legs and arms at unpleasantly random intervals. She jumped to her feet clumsily, and wobbled on her half-asleep legs. Her arms were oddly more capable.

Ratchet's arms flailed crazily. In any martial arts tournament, it might end up lauded as a fantastic tactic, provided your nails were well-clipped, but Ratchet had only the meager goal of regaining her long-lost balance. She would have failed miserably, had her captors removed themselves from the immediate area. Unfortunately for them, instead, Ratchet's long and razor-sharp fingernails sliced cloth and flesh like they'd been made for the job, and Ratchet did, in fact, regain balance.

Her assailants fell to the floor, several of them unconscious, for whatever reason. Others clutched possibly fatal wounds and moaned in an annoying way. Ratchet's first instinct was to bolt from the room and find a bathroom. She'd never used nail-polish before, and so wouldn't know that her fingernails would pass off nicely now as some of the best red fingernails in town.

Instinctively, Ratchet didn't lick the blood off her nails. Later she'd suspect she just didn't think of it, but, in reality, instinct distinctly took control, if only passively.

By this time, Ratchet really was the fastest runner in the neighborhood, for the simple fact that she was no longer in her neighborhood. Ratchet thought smugly, "I'm probably not in any neighborhood."

She found it very difficult to run, now that she so thoroughly could. Eventually, Ratchet became indifferent, and then annoyed that she could run so fast. It didn't help much to try to walk, either. She seemed to have replaced walking and running, respectively, with hopping and, well, it was probably something along the lines of scramming. All she knew, though, was that her shoes had burned right off somewhere between Tokyo and Vermont.

It was roughly an hour later when she sat on a park bench, tired, confused, annoyed, but definitely clean. It was raining.


For Some Odd Reason (pt. 2)

Part 2

If Only Dreams Were Real

Ratchet didn't immediately remove herself from her dreams when she felt water splashed, and then dripping all over her face. Her dreams immediately reflected the reality, though, and she found herself in a raft on a river, water undeniably spraying with uncalled-for violence in her direction. Ratchet reflected, nonsensically, that it was good sense for her to have her eyes closed in real life, just in case this dream flitted over the boundaries of fantasy and entered the possibly nightmarish reality she would soon have to deal with in some way. Her captors noticed a displeased and annoyed expression pass over her face. Of course, they wouldn't have made anything of it if it hadn't also landed and placed itself nicely over her still unconscious face. Thus, it did so. The effect would have been alarming, had said captors not already cleverly agreed that Ratchet was no more asleep than a llama can trample an elephant.

Ratchet visibly sighed. At this point, she had come awake, and was slowly coming to grips with the ropes, chains, and duct tape, well, gripping her arms and legs at more places than were necessary, even if she was stronger than a chinchilla on steroids, growth hormones and coffee. As it was, Ratchet hadn't put much effort into muscular development, and was unable to resist the clumsily devised grasp of the quantity of restraints imprisoning her.

Ratchet paused. Being awake, now, she pondered what she'd just thought. "The quantity of restraints imprisoning her." At the moment, she didn't think it, but later she'd realize it gave some comfort to consider these restraints her captors, instead of human beings, well capable of torturing her, killing her, or, by golly, nuking her neighborhood.

Though she hadn't had great relations with anyone in the neighborhood, she quickly became irate that her birthplace, current residence, and probably even deathplace, had been overrun by fire, hot air, and radiation.

Thinking of nothing else to prolong her improbable sleep, she pondered again her survival. If, in fact, her neighborhood had been nuked, then perhaps she'd either gained immunity to nuclear radiation, or, and she audibly gasped at the thought, it'd made her into some sort of superhuman, well capable of...of, well, who knows what!

To her surprise, her eyes opened. It'd be cruelly unjust, untrue, and wrong to say that she opened her eyes, simply because she didn't open them. Her dream, which had long degraded into her falling off the edge of the world in a barrel unkindly marked, "THIS WAY UP," ended immediately. Despite the unpleasantness of such a dream (some might even call it a nightmare, whatever that is), Ratchet's blood pressure continued to escalate, and her teeth, which were usually pleasantly, and not violently acquainted with each other, met in a dark, narrow alley and ground each other to dust.

That is to say, Ratchet ground her teeth.

Until this point, she hadn't bothered to use her eyes. By whatever miracle, she had simply stopped using them by power of will, and thought herself staring at blackness. However, she suddenly decided she'd like to use her eyes. Like a nurse in a well-maintained hospital, she took mere seconds to open her eyes, and, subsequently, observe her unpleasant surroundings.

At an unpleasant distance, there was a face, obviously belonging to a man completely unaware of the other sex. His facial hair, which might have been at least normally colored, on a bad day, was a deep shade of green that Ratchet reflected, later, might have been the exact color of her barf in her dream.

On the nasal facet of things, her glowering partner in, Ratchet firmly decided, her personal space had possibly the worst smelling visage she had ever acquainted herself with. Given, she hadn't acquainted herself with many visages this intimately in her lifetime, but this probably still easily took place over her dear Aunt Josephine, who, for whatever reason, wore such a rare combination of both ladies' and mens' scented toiletries that merely entering the same room frequented the unbearably strong need to cough, sneeze, or, if need be, sputter. Being so closely related to her Aunt, Ratchet had taken to the regrettable but necessary habit of carrying around nose-plugs with her. Usually undetectable, she had stolen these helpful artifacts into her nasal cavities when such emergencies presented themselves, smug to the extreme, to her unsuspecting consciousness.

To cut a long description short, the man stunk, looked like a bear who'd neglected to shave only the least attractive section of his body, and generally made Ratchet's head spin. It would be difficult to explain how Ratchet's head spun, but one would be well-informed to know that Ratchet's head did, indeed, rotate a good 482 degrees. This phenomenon may never be explained, but it was momentarily sufficient to send the partially shaved and deeply disgusting bear several paces backward. He, however, seemed to have expected this, and advanced back into her thoroughly violated personal space. It occurred to her to try rotating her head like that again, but she found it difficult, now, to go beyond the usual two hundred or so degrees of rotation.

Ratchet snorted. Cruel fate.


August 14, 2010

For Some Odd Reason (pt. 1)

Nothing that follows is a coincidence. Everything that follows should either stop following, or become a coincidence. The world would be better for it.

Part 1

In Which Things Stop Happening, and Other Things Follow in Their Stead

Ratchet looked around. For all she knew, a nuke had just gone off. For all she knew, everyone was dead.

Ratched paused.

No, not quite everyone, she thought. But why the heck was she alive?

These thoughts caused Ratchet great pause. Whether she continued to pause, as in "stop temporarily," is yet to be seen.

Ratchet assumed a fittingly bemused expression and looked at her surroundings. Around her, in largely random array, were a large assortment of bodies, in varying states of disembowelment, dismemberment, or disintegration. Ratchet nodded firmly. Yeah, that guy over there did really look like he had mold on his nose. All of a sudden, Ratchet also gripped her nose with rather unwomanly ferocity.

Although it was hard to see (for she did practically break her nose in the process, what with the speed she moved her hand), Ratchet momentarily had to prevent herself from choking, coughing, or sneezing. The smell was attacking just about every dimension of sensory perception she could remember possessing, and it was slowly scrambling her brains.

No, she thought. My brains would take a lot of heat to scramble. On a later day, she'd wonder why she thought this, but at the moment, all she could think of to do was run.

Ratchet was good at running. No, to be precise, Ratchet thought she was good at running. In reality, she was only the second-best runner in her neighborhood. On the other hand, she wasn't sure she had a neighborhood anymore, so she might be number one. This thought somehow slowed her down, and, just downwind from the whole massive mess, she slowed to a begrudging walk. It occurred to her, as she slowed, that she probably had been breathing such foul air as she'd just recently properly acquainted herself with for a good few minutes.

Ratchet was just wondering if she'd see the unfinished products of her digestive system today when she went unconscious.

For reasons not privy to either the author or Ratchet, her dreams flew immediately to such uncannily happy domains that she did, at least in her dream, acquaint herself with some undigested elements of her breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In reality, she was taken off to an abandoned warehouse and tied to a chair.